thyroid gland

What your thyroid does

Your thyroid is an important part of your endocrine system. It is made up of glands that produce, store and release hormones into your blood stream, so they can reach every cell of our body.

Some of the things these hormones do:

  • regulate your metabolism
  • how you process the food you eat
  • how you breathe
  • your body temperature
  • cholesterol levels
  • our menstrual cycles
  • our weight
  • regulates our nervous system

Anatomy of the thyroid

The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and located just under your Adams Apple on the front of your neck. It produces and stores the hormones T3 and T4.

T4 – Thyroxine it is the inactive thyroid hormone and its converted to T3 . The 4 means how many iodine atoms it has.

T3 – Triiodothyonine is the active form

How it works

Production of the thyroid hormone is driven by another hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH. TSH is secreted from the pituitary gland in response to the stimulation from the hypothalamus which is located in your brain. TSH is produced in relation to the amount of T4 and T3 that is produced.

Things that can go wrong

When the body becomes unbalanced you can have thyroid problems. You can have an overactive thyroid where everything speeds up or an underactive thyroid where everything slows down.

Signs and symptoms of an overactive thyroid: (Hyperthyroid)

  • Brittle hair
  • Changes in bowel pattern – more likely to be diarrhoea
  • Changes in menstrual pattern
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased sensitivity to heat
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Thinning of your skin
  • Tremor (fine trembling in hands and fingers)
  • Signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid (Hypothyroid)
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Elevated blood cholesterol levels
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness
  • Impaired memory
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Irregular menstrual periods, or heavier than normal
  • Muscle ache and tenderness
  • Pain, swelling, stiffness in joints
  • Puffy face
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight gain
  • Thyroid Conditions



Primary hypothyroidism:
Under active thyroid function with poor hormone synthesis and low body temperature. TSH elevated and T3 and T4 low. Considered an autoimmune disorder. More common in women

Sub-clinical hypothyroidism:
Under activity of the thyroid gland, with symptoms of low thyroid but with TSH within standard laboratory reference ranges.
Euthyroid sick syndrome
Impaired conversion of T4 and T3. There could be liver and kidney involvement due to the conversion taking place in these organs.
Wilsons thyroid syndrome
Excessive production of reverse T3 that blocks T3 from accessing the receptors in cells. Generally non specific symptoms when TSH range is normal. Raised cortisol and high stress likely to be the cause.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:
An autoimmune condition where immune cells attack the gland causing inflammation and/or goitre. Thyroid antibody testing best way for diagnosis.

Secondary Hypothyroidism:
TSH will be decreased, and its thought to be a problem somewhere else like the pituitary or hypothalamus. In this case, there is usually nothing wrong with the thyroid gland itself. It is generally considered to be a dysfunction of the gland.


Also known as thyrotoxicosis. Overactivity of the thyroid gland. TSH is very low and T4, and T3 levels are high.

Grave’s Disease:
An autoimmune condition where antibodies affect the TSH receptor on the thyroid gland. This condition is often associated with bulging eyes.


Thyroid tumours:
Most are benign with around 5% malignancy. Most people asymptomatic. Generally noticed by someone else looking at the person.

What causes imbalances in thyroid?

Diet – Diet plays a big part in thyroid function. The thyroid needs iodine to work properly. The thyroid also need cofactors such as tyrosine, selenium, zinc copper, B vitamins. It is important to eat a very diverse whole food diet to make these hormones. Deficiencies in your diet will impact your thyroid. Before supplementing it is important to get tested for these deficiencies.

Stress – Stress produces cortisol. Too much cortisol interferes with the thyroid hormone production. Stress stimulates your thyroid to work harder to create sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.

Hormonal changes – It is common for women in peri- menopause to have changes to their thyroid as they approach menopause. It is very common for women who have delivered a baby (post partum) to have thyroid changes.

Environmental toxins – Environmental toxins can disrupt the thyroid. These toxins can look structurally like thyroid hormones and bind to the receptor sites prohibiting the hormone production. The biggest offenders are heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides, industrial chemicals and household products.

Have you checked your thyroid lately? If you need more information get in touch.

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